Potential Playoff Problems

I realize SOS is only one factor to look at when considering players for fantasy and that you can find something negative, like a tougher schedule, about any fantasy prospect. But if there’s one thing to be very concerned about for an upcoming season, it’s a brutal schedule for your fantasy playoffs.

This game is still about matchups, and if they’re bad for the playoffs for your key players, it may be too much to overcome, so I’ve gone through the schedules to find the top-10 RBs who have challenging schedules for the key playoff weeks. Not all of these guys have brutal overall playoff schedules, and many have favorable matchups mixed in with bad ones, but here’s what I got. I’m not suggesting you should avoid any of these players, but if you’re looking for a tie-breaker for one of them against another comparable player, the playoff week SOS could be it.

DeAngelo Williams is a damn good player, but his schedule for the key playoff weeks is absolutely brutal

DeAngelo Williams is a damn good player, but his schedule for the key playoff weeks is absolutely brutal

DeAngelo Williams (Car) – Williams could easily come through again with big numbers in 2009; he was clearly playing at an insanely high level last year, and his overall situation is still very good. However, he is bound to fall back from his extremely high production level from last year, and Jonathan Stewart, if healthy, should take away more touches. But perhaps most disconcerting is his playoff week schedule. Williams may get you to the big dance this season, but he might then kill you, since he’s facing TB, NE, MIN, and NYG Weeks 12-16. That is a really tough schedule, so keep that in mind when making that oh-so-tough call on Williams this year.

Marion Barber (Dal – I’m not nearly as high on Barber in ’09 as I was last year. Although I realize they will likely run the ball more, I also know that Tashard Choice is a damn good player who commands some action, and Felix Jones is much more dynamic and will get plenty of touches. Another strike against Barber: his schedule is challenging for the playoff Weeks 12-16: NYG, SD, NO, and WAS. The Saints shouldn’t be a big problem (although they are improving), but the other three teams should each be top-10 against the run this year. And keep this in mind: Barber’s faded for the fantasy playoffs three of the last four years. Even if they use him a little less to keep him fresh, this schedule could make it four out of five.

Ryan Grant (GB) – Grant’s a decent back who should be more than serviceable, but it’s hard to find too many reasons to target and to try to make it a point to take him. I’m concerned about the shaky state of their OL, the presence of backup Brandon Jackson, who’s a better receiver, and his overall lack of special qualities, which should continue to limit him at least somewhat. Also of concern, of course, is his playoff week schedule. He gets Seattle in Week Sixteen, which isn’t very scary, but if you own Grant, will you even make it that far? Possibly not, since he’s facing off against BAL, CHI, and PIT Weeks 13-15. The Ravens may fall off a little, but this is still three of the top-10 run defenses in 2008, and they will be good again this year. The good news for Grant, at least, is that his schedule is cake-like earlier in the season.

Michael Turner (Atl) – Turner’s schedule is challenging the whole season, and while it’s not brutal down the stretch, he gets PHI and NYJ Weeks 13 and 15, and these could be two of the top-5 defenses against the run. It will also be interesting to see how he reacts in 2009 to the 377 carries he got in 2008, his first season carrying the load in his career. If there is a residual effect, it may show up late in the season, so the schedule is a concern.

Ronnie Brown (Mia) – Long time readers know I have always been a Brown supporter, at times to a fault. However, I didn’t love him last year coming off the knee injury, and I don’t love him this year for a few reasons. First and foremost, there are no indications the team will make him more of a focal point of the offense, even though they probably should. The fact is he’s yet to truly carry the load in the NFL or college for a full season, so at this point he may never. Brown should be handy this year, but I’m not going to be proactive with him and make it a point to snap him up. NE, JAC, TEN is a challenging run Weeks 13-15.

Jamal Lewis (Cle) – He’ll get the rock this year, no doubt, but it remains to be seen if he can hold up at his advancing age, and behind an OL that isn’t as good as it was just 1-2 years ago. He never gets any favors schedule-wise in his division, and if you’re playing for your playoff life Weeks 13-14, note that he gets SD and PIT those two weeks. Unless things go surprisingly well in Cleveland, those two matchups should be problematic, to say the least.

Clinton Portis (Was) – He’s a warrior, but he’s also been wearing down late in the season recently, and in 2009 he plays a pair of tough defenses Weeks 15-16. He gets the NYG in Week Fifteen and DAL in Week Sixteen. He’s had some success against both defenses in the past, but he’s been a little up-and-down against them. Another year older, he might have a tough time coming through against a pair of strong run-stuffing defenses so late in the season.

Willis McGahee/Le’Ron McClain (Bal) – Before you invest too high of a pick on either one of these guys, keep in mind we could still be looking at a committee this year, and that the Ravens get CHI and PIT in Weeks 15-16. If it’s still a committee situation here – and keep in mind Ray Rice looks much improved this off-season – these two challenging matchups could mean that neither of these guys will be good starts for the fantasy semis, championship, or wherever your league is those two weeks.

Matt Forte (Chi) – Tough call here, since he’s clearly a desirable player, and he does have a pair of good matchups Weeks 12-13 (STL and GB). But if you get beyond that, Forte may come up small for you against MIN and BAL in Weeks 14-15. A saving grace for Forte is how he can make up for a tough go on the ground in the passing game, but he merits inclusion in this article based on those two matchups.

Steven Jackson (Stl) – For some reason, I feel the need to use the word “horse” when I describe Jackson, but while he has had some injury issues, he definitely is. When you take a close look at the RB landscape, there are few players who have his combination of youth, size and strength, and explosiveness, so he’s certainly intriguing. Behind a revamped line he should be pretty strong this year, but if your fantasy playoffs are underway Weeks 13-14, he might not go off for you against CHI and TEN, a pair of high-end RBs.

Weeks 13-16 Schedules

13 14 15 16
Arizona MIN SF DET STL AVERAGE
Rush Grade 92 86 82 84 86.00
Atlanta PHI NO NYJ BUF AVERAGE
Rush Grade 88 85 88 86 86.75
Baltimore GB DET CHI PIT AVERAGE
Rush Grade 85 82 88 91 86.50
Buffalo NYJ KC NE ATL AVERAGE
Rush Grade 88 84 88 83 85.75
Carolina TB NE MIN NYG AVERAGE
Rush Grade 86 88 92 92 89.50
Chicago STL GB BAL MIN AVERAGE
Rush Grade 84 85 89 92 87.50
Cincinnati DET MIN SD KC AVERAGE
Rush Grade 82 92 89 84 86.75
Cleveland SD PIT KC OAK AVERAGE
Rush Grade 89 91 84 82 86.50
Dallas NYG SD NO WAS AVERAGE
Rush Grade 92 89 85 87 88.25
Denver KC IND OAK PHI AVERAGE
Rush Grade 84 84 82 88 84.50
Detroit CIN BAL ARI SF AVERAGE
Rush Grade 86 89 86 86 86.75
Green Bay BAL CHI PIT SEA AVERAGE
Rush Grade 89 88 91 85 88.25
Houston JAC SEA STL MIA AVERAGE
Rush Grade 85 85 84 87 85.25
Indianapolis TEN DEN JAC NYJ AVERAGE
Rush Grade 88 83 85 88 86.00
Jacksonville HOU MIA IND NE AVERAGE
Rush Grade 86 87 84 88 86.25
Kansas City DEN BUF CLE CIN AVERAGE
Rush Grade 83 86 84 86 84.75
Miami NE JAC TEN HOU AVERAGE
Rush Grade 88 85 88 86 86.75
Minnesota ARI CIN CAR CHI AVERAGE
Rush Grade 86 86 87 88 86.75
New England MIA CAR BUF JAC AVERAGE
Rush Grade 87 87 86 85 86.25
New Orleans WAS ATL DAL TB AVERAGE
Rush Grade 87 83 89 86 86.25
NY Giants DAL PHI WAS CAR AVERAGE
Rush Grade 89 88 87 87 87.75
NY Jets BUF TB ATL IND AVERAGE
Rush Grade 86 86 83 84 84.75
Oakland PIT WAS DEN CLE AVERAGE
Rush Grade 91 87 83 84 86.25
Philadelphia ATL NYG SF DEN AVERAGE
Rush Grade 83 92 86 83 86.00
Pittsburgh OAK CLE GB BAL AVERAGE
Rush Grade 82 84 85 89 85.00
San Diego CLE DAL CIN TEN AVERAGE
Rush Grade 84 89 86 88 86.75
San Fran SEA ARI PHI DET AVERAGE
Rush Grade 85 86 88 82 85.25
Seattle SF HOU TB GB AVERAGE
Rush Grade 86 86 86 85 85.75
St. Louis CHI TEN HOU ARI AVERAGE
Rush Grade 88 88 86 86 87.00
Tampa Bay CAR NYJ SEA NO AVERAGE
Rush Grade 87 88 85 85 86.25
Tennessee IND STL MIA SD AVERAGE
Rush Grade 84 84 87 89 86.00
Washington NO OAK NYG DAL AVERAGE
Rush Grade 85 82 92 89 87.00

Category: Fantasy Football

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5 Responses

  1. Rich Peny says:

    John,

    What about Brandon Jacobs? By point totals, NYG is the 4th hardest Wk 13-16 with 2 reds and 2 Browns.. Only two teams have worse.

    I have always felt SOS is rather important. Do you feel an O-line like the #1 NYG trumps a tough schedule??

  2. John Hansen says:

    I certainly looked at him, and you’re right, the Giant O-Line plus his success against Dal and Was made me lean toward not including him. Most of these other guys have some other issues, whereas all Jacobs has to do is be on the field.

  3. Wax Man says:

    John – When do you start your Fantasy Show on Sirius? It’s one of my favorites.

  4. John Hansen says:

    7/31, most likely. We usually pick the week and with the season starting later, that’s a good time to start, right when camps open.

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